Thanks for sharing Anniemac.
I have done and still do some mental exercises very similar to what you are describing and they are very enjoyable and they produce some amazingly pleasant results.
I used to refer to them as meditations and I met a couple of people who were much more knowledgeable about meditation than myself, (that was easy to do) and they said that what I was doing was good, but that it wasn't meditation. And, that sure caused a mental conflict for me!
They suggested that I continue to pursue the art and practice of meditation and that I give a new name to my other exercises. I figured "Okay, that's easy enough, I'll call them something else." And, I started referring to them as Guided Visualizations and Mental Exercises.
A couple of times, when I was feeling real spiritual
I referred to them as Spiritual Exercises ( "SE's" for short) and that gave me a mental conflict because I started thinking "meditation is probably a spiritual exercise... so, I'll go back to calling them Mental Exercises. ( I just noticed that... ME's for short!
I seem to have this knack for needing to put a label on something and then I do too much thinking about it... and then, someone comes along and informs me that I've put the wrong label on something! And, then I get confused.... and do more thinking.
(The story of my life?)
So to try and solve my thinking conflict... I decided that anything that I did to try and quiet my mind and stop my thinking... (to experience a quiet time)... I would refer to as "meditation" ... and the exercises that I would do to try to "guide or control" my thinking... I would refer to those as Mental Training Exercises. (Kind of like Physical Training Exercise... the difference being, doing it with my head, and sometimes with my head and my body).
Of course... now that I think about it (think think think
) If I was using some kind of prayer to assist or guide my meditation, that would be "guiding or attempting to influence or control" the outcome of the meditation.
I've kind of concluded that for me, what works best to "quiet my mind" is to do breathing exercises where I try to keep my focus on my breathing and the breath until I can reach a quiet place. And, when I want to stimulate other mental, physical and emotional states ... I do the kind of exercises that you mentioned above.
Do you have any thoughts that you can share with me on this? Do I tend to make too big a deal out of it and make it complicated for myself? Is there any "official" type differences.... in meditation and other experiences?
Thanks for your help. I'm teachable and willing to learn!